In 1914 when Great Britain entered the First World War and Canada followed suit, the Canadian Government decided to order the registration and, in some cases, internment of foreigners of enemy nationality. Twenty-four camps were set up in Canada, four of them in Québec. On January 13, 1915, the Spirit Lake detention camp was opened on the shores of Beauchamp Lake near Amos. The camp held over 1 200 prisoners interned essentially because of their ethnic origins. They were mainly Ukrainians, but also Germans, Bulgarians and Turks. The Spirit Lake camp was also one of only two camps to accept families. Close to sixty wives and their children settled in Spirit Lake; they came on a strictly voluntary basis. The internees were governed by the Hague Convention Respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land. The internees had to see to their own subsistence, comfort and hygiene by performing various tasks. Prisoners accompanied by their families did not work. They had only to look after their families.
The detention camp was shut down in 1917, and the facilities were used for the development of an experimental farm until the end of the 1920s.